22. Memorandum From the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee (Richardson) to President Nixon1


  • Report of the Under Secretaries Committee on REDCOSTE

The Under Secretaries Committee has completed its examination of the REDCOSTE proposals, which you directed (NSDM-12)2 be examined by it, taking into account our desire not to undercut our efforts to get our Allies to increase their defense efforts and our desire not to reduce our combat capability.

The Committee concentrated on those items on which no agreement to proceed had been reached previously, as well as those items where agreement in principle existed but proceeding was dependent upon discussion with host countries (i.e., Turkey and Spain).

In addition, the Committee reaffirmed those REDCOSTE proposals previously agreed and approved the proposed implementing schedule.

On those proposals upon which inter-agency agreement was pending, the Committee agreed that we should proceed with some degree or form of implementation of all but one of the proposals examined. However, implementation of several of the proposals is conditional and subject to responses and reactions of our European Allies.

On the basis of our tentative conclusions, it is anticipated that those REDCOSTE proposals previously agreed, together with those recommended herein for approval, should permit a possible reduction of about 27,400 military, 1,800 US civilians, and 7,100 Foreign National personnel. It is expected that there will be annual budget savings (after FY 1972) of about $355 million and a saving of $128 million in the balance of payments.

However, these figures are dependent upon Allied agreement to take over certain tactical missions, (Hawk and Nike Battalions in [Page 57] Germany and Sergeant Missiles in Italy) as well as Turkish assumption of certain facilities. If agreement is not obtained, the above figures will be reduced by about one-third.

Therefore, if fully implemented, we could achieve about 80% of the estimated 45,000 personnel reductions (32,000 military) and $429 million and $158 million savings in budget and balance of payments which the Secretary of Defense originally hoped to achieve. To have fully realized these projected savings would have meant a highly visible reduction of our forces in Europe, withdrawal of some NATO committed units (beyond those being offered to our Allies), and some degradation of combat capability, which might have been taken as a signal by our Allies of a lessened US interest in NATO.

With regard to the effect on the combat capability of US forces, it is our view that the cumulative impact of the REDCOSTE adjustments which the Committee agreed to make will not be significant. It is, of course, obvious that any reduction of this magnitude will have some impact upon military operations. However, the reductions have been effected essentially in the non-combat areas and every attempt will be made to minimize the impact upon combat capability. In this regard, General Goodpaster has been briefed, for his cognizance when he becomes SACEUR, on our conclusions and the magnitude and nature of the REDCOSTE proposals as well as the manner in which we propose to handle implementation with our NATO Allies.

In our scenario at Tab A3 it will be noted that we intend to handle each measure as an individual and independent action. Consistent with this approach, we have agreed that the Government will not make an announcement, as has been the practice in the past, concerning the totality of the reduction to be made. In consonance with the guidance in NSDM-12 that the proposals not be handled as a package, we do not intend to make public nor inform our Allies about the total personnel to be eliminated or the total savings anticipated. However, we would tell NATO, at the Military Committee level, and the respective host countries concerned, about certain significant measures. Our approach would be in terms of the kinds of things we are doing to streamline and tighten up our military establishment in Europe, rather than in terms of the quantitative savings or reductions we expect to achieve.

Following are the REDCOSTE proposals examined by the Committee and its conclusions. (The summary sheets at Tab B,4 describe the individual proposals and discuss the factors considered and anticipated savings and personnel reductions):

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1. Proposal: Reductions in US personnel and facilities in Spain.

Conclusion: Implementation should be contingent upon and be in context of the outcome of base negotiations with Spain.

2. Proposal: 60% reduction of US military personnel and dependents and facilities in Turkey.

Conclusion: We should continue to negotiate takeover of the facilities with the Turks, awaiting Turkish reactions before proceeding with implementation of the planned reductions or considering other options. (Other unilateral reduction proposals not related to or contingent upon the on-going negotiations could proceed.)

3. Proposal: Reduce US element of NATO staffs (19 headquarters) by 15%.

Conclusion: Any reduction in the manning of NATO staffs should be the result of normal personnel surveys and reviews rather than a unilateral decision to reduce the US element by 15%; this should be handled within the context of our efforts to share the defense burden with our Allies. However, the question of the level of US participation should be considered again in the context of Presidential decisions about the future level of US forces in Europe and attitude, in the long-term, toward NATO.

4. Proposal: Reduce Aviano Air Base, Italy, and relocate tactical unit in Italy.

Conclusion: Aviano should be retained in a fully operational status and the Quick Reaction Alert detachment not be relocated as proposed.

5. Proposal: Offer of 8 Air Defense Battalions (Hawk and Nike) to the Federal Republic of Germany; if they refuse offer, two Hawk Battalions would be withdrawn.

Conclusion: We should propose to the Federal Republic of Germany that they take over the 8 Air Defense Missile Battalions (4 Hawk and 4 Nike); the decision on whether to withdraw 2 Hawk Battalions if the Germans refuse to take them over would await German reaction and be re-examined again this summer in the context of the US response to the NATO Defense Planning Questionnaire (DPQ) for 1970 force commitments.

6. Proposal: Reduce activities at Athens International Airport and place facilities on stand-by basis.

Conclusion: The facility and support contingent at Athens should be retained in an operational status; an initial reduction should be made to [Page 59] a 1,100 personnel level; and a Department of Defense study should be made to ascertain whether further reductions should be undertaken while retaining the facility in an operative status.

7. Proposal: Reduce and relocate USAFE Headquarters, Germany; reduce two air bases.

Conclusion: (a) USAFE should be retained at Wiesbaden but reduced by 1,250 personnel; (b) the United States Air Force should attempt further Air Force reductions in the Wiesbaden area and elsewhere in Europe at once; (c) the question of retention at Wiesbaden should be considered again by the Department of Defense within the context of Presidential decisions to be made later this year concerning our long-term attitude toward NATO and the future level of our military presence in Europe; and (d) the matter of increase and acquisition of other air bases in Germany, previously included in this REDCOSTE proposal, should be examined in the context of the overall US European air base posture.

8. Proposal: Reduce SETAF (Southern European Task Force), withdrawing Army Sergeant Missile Unit from Italy; reduce Camp Darby Army Depot complex.

Conclusion: (a) SETAF/Sergeant Missile Unit: We should request the Italians to take over the Sergeant Missile Battalion; however, the decision on whether to withdraw the unit would be made in the light of the Italian reaction. In any event, substantial reductions, about 1,300 US and 600 Foreign National personnel, should be made by the Department of Defense by streamlining and consolidating SETAF Headquarters and support functions while continuing the essential peacetime functions. (b) Camp Darby Army Depot Complex: The Camp Darby Army Depot complex should remain operative and its essential functions continued, but it should be reduced by about 400 US and 900 Foreign National personnel to a level of about 800 personnel, by streamlining and consolidation, including modification, of support functions.

A scenario for implementation of REDCOSTE, covering proposals previously agreed and the foregoing proposals examined by the Committee, is at Tab A.

Individual summary sheets, describing in detail the REDCOSTE proposals which were considered on a case-by-case basis, issues involved and recommendations, are at Tab B.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 83 D 305, NSDM 12. Secret. Drafted by Colonel G. D. Overbey (EUR/RPM) on May 21 and concurred in by U. Alexis Johnson, Brigadier General Hampton (OSD/ISA), Major General Orwat (JCS), Springsteen (EUR), and Hartman (U). An earlier draft, prepared by the Interagency Working Group chaired by Under Secretary Johnson, was sent on May 14 by Staff Director Arthur A. Hartman to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kissinger, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff informing them it would be discussed at the Under Secretaries Committee meeting on Thursday, May 15. (Ibid.) On June 5 Kissinger sent Richardson a memorandum stating “the President has reviewed your memorandum and approves the recommendations.” (Ibid., Lot 83 D 276, NSC-U/DM 9) A handwritten note at the top of the memorandum printed here indicates that the President approved.
  2. See Document 18.
  3. Entitled “Scenario for Implementation”; not printed.
  4. Not printed.